UPI: Iranian officials remain confident they will have their Bushehr reactor online within a year. United Press International
TEHRAN, April 11 (UPI) — Iranian officials remain confident they will have their Bushehr reactor online within a year.
Mohammad Saidi, a deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Tuesday made clear Tehran’s continued willingness to defy the United States and the U.N. Security Council on pushing ahead with its nuclear program. He also expressed confidence that U.N. and U.S. efforts to dissuade his government would not prevent the Russian-built Bushehr project from being fully operational within the next 12 months.
“Even if we take into account the delays in plant construction, Iran will this year undoubtedly become one of the states that have nuclear power plants,” Saidi said, according to an RIA Novosti report. RIA Novosti noted that the current Iranian year will end on March 20, 2008.
Saidi said the Bushehr reactor complex was almost completed, and only 8 percent of work on it still needs to be done, the Russian news agency said. “This year its construction will be completed,” he said.
In the not-so-distant future, Iran will be able to build small capacity nuclear power plants with the help of national specialists, Saidi said.
Saidi’s comments looked likely to add to the continuing tensions caused by Iran’s determination to push ahead with its controversial uranium-enrichment program and the Bush administration’s determination to stop that program in its tracks.
Saidi’s comments came as the United States was re-deploying its aircraft carrier battle groups in the Arabian Sea facing Iran. The USS Nimitz and its support ships are en route to the region from California to replace the USS Eisenhower and its group. The USS John Stennis has left its station to provide sea-based air support for NATO operations in Afghanistan.